A new community-based service has been established in Gloucestershire to support people affected by ongoing COVID-19 symptoms, often referred to as Long COVID.

The Post-COVID Syndrome Assessment Service, provided by Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust, brings together skilled healthcare professionals who can provide physical, cognitive (the mental processes involved in gaining knowledge and understanding) and psychological assessments for people experiencing suspected Post-COVID Syndrome.

Individuals can then receive help from the service or be referred to other services to meet their specific needs.

The Post-COVID Syndrome Assessment Service is in addition to, and runs alongside, support that is already provided by Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to patients who have been very unwell in hospital. These patients may have spent time on an Intensive Care Unit or on a COVID-19 ward.

Dr Hein Le Roux, GP and Deputy Clinical Chair at NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, said:

“COVID-19 affects people in different ways and there are many different symptoms which can impact our bodies, both physically and mentally.

Although as healthcare professionals we are continuing to learn about the extent of its impact, there is increasing knowledge about how best to manage ongoing symptoms and support people with their recovery and rehabilitation.

This new community service offers expert advice and guidance to people who experience symptoms that stay with them for more than 12 weeks who may be suffering from Post-COVID Syndrome.”

The Gloucestershire Post-COVID Syndrome Assessment Service is available to all affected patients who need it, whether or not they have been previously hospitalised, and patients can be referred following a discussion with their GP.

Angela Potter, Director of Strategy and Partnerships at Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust, said:

“The service can help with both the physical and psychological symptoms people experience with Post-COVID Syndrome.

We have access to a multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals, including a psychologist, respiratory consultant, occupational therapist and GP. Patients who are referred will have an initial appointment with one of the team; they will be assessed by a clinician and signposted to the most appropriate service or support for their needs.

This can include specialist services such as psychological support (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies Service), specialist respiratory services, community-based support via The Healthy Lifestyle Service or Live Better to Feel Better group or access to an online platform which offers advice and support.”

Information and advice is also available via the national website, Your COVID Recovery: www.yourcovidrecovery.nhs.uk. The website includes general information on all aspects of recovering from COVID-19 including physical, emotional and psychological wellbeing, advice on recovery and information for families and carers.

Following a discussion with a clinician in the service, patients may also be referred to a new digital, interactive platform, recently developed by experts to help patients manage their recovery at home. The platform can be tailored to an individual’s specific needs to support their recovery in the best way possible.

Dr Charles Sharp, Respiratory Consultant at Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said:

“We are continually learning more about the numbers of people affected by Post-COVID Syndrome in Gloucestershire and the range of symptoms they are suffering from. There are also a number of national studies underway which will benefit our understanding.

This new service offers another important way to help us to provide high quality care to many people who have ongoing symptoms and to identify those who would benefit from further support.

We are working hard to continue to do our best to reassure and support local people through their recovery.”